For those of you waiting months for the return of Game of Thrones, I feel your pain. Having just recently finished all of season one, for the first time, the week-long wait for the season two premiere has been sheer agony.
But, let’s rewind. For anyone not yet on the GOT caravan, or those with memory issues like me, here’s a QUICK recap of season one. (Yes, quick means many details left out).
John Arryn, the Hand of King Robert Baratheon, dies a sudden and somewhat mysterious death. The King and his family travel to the north of Westeros to Winterfell, ruled over by Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark. King Robert intends to make Ned the new “King’s Hand” and joins their families by betrothing his son, Joffrey, to Ned’s enamored daughter Sensa. Before they have a chance to return to the citadel at King’s Landing, Stark’s son Bran discovers a secret, the Queen has an incestuous relationship with her twin brother Jaime Lannister. Ned departs with his two daughters, Sensa and tomboy Arya, while the rest of his family stay behind. Entering the kingdom as the Hand, and learning of the King’s bastard children and the scheming of the Lannisters, Ned puts his life on the line when Robert is killed, and he challenges Joffrey’s right to the throne. It gets Ned a quick beheading, a captured daughter, and one on the run posing as a young orphan boy. His remaining son, Robb, leads the war south to defeat the new king in the citadel.
Meanwhile, to the east in Essos, exiled siblings Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen long to reclaim their kingdom in Westeros and their Dragon bloodline. Viserys has a plan for the nomadic Dothraki to fight behind him. To do so, he must “give” his sister as a wife to the most powerful Khal, but his efforts to win over the army are trumped by his more likable sister, who embraces the ways of the Dothraki people and the gift of Dragon eggs. Although her violent brother is killed and her mighty Khal defeated, she emerges from his funeral pyre unscathed and queen of a new following, including three infant dragons.
While “The North Remembers” is not an incredibly exciting or action-packed episode, it satiates the thirst of Thrones lovers with exposition, and lots of it, the calm between the storms. One lesson everyone should learn from this episode: keeps your hand close to your chest. Putting all your cards on the table allows your enemy to know what he’s dealing with.
Newly crowned King Joffrey is waging mortal competitions in celebration of his nameday and forcing his imprisoned fiancée, Sensa, to watch. When his brother, Tyrion the imp, returns, Joffrey gives him a lukewarm welcome, which is heartfelt compared to that of Ty’s sister, the Queen Regent, Cersei. Her boiling blood melts her icy stare when she learns the imp has been named the King’s Hand by their father. True to character, though, Tyrion is ruthless in his criticism of his sister and her son the king.
Back in Winterfell, young Bran Stark is acting as Lord of the land in his older brother’s absence. He continues to have prophetic dreams, this time about the passing red comet which, according to many a peasant, means the return of dragons is imminent. Of course, any fan of the Khaleesi knows that to already be true. Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen has been wandering the Red Waste with her new tribe and her baby dragons. Knowing there are nothing but enemies in all directions, she searches for food and water for her people and an escape from their despair. As a last ditch effort, she sends off her best scouts hoping to find that escape.
North of the Wall, the Men of the Night’s Watch search for Benjen Stark, despite the threat of the White Walkers and the oncoming harsh winter. They encounter stories of “The King of the North” who has more armies then the entire south, and a smart-mouthed John Snow learns a little lesson in diplomacy and learning how to follow.
Back in the South, a trio of testosterone is headed to King’s Landing to lay claim. Stannis Baratheon, his army and their Fire Priestess Melisandre are denouncing the old gods, burning them in effigy, and heading to the citadel. Knowing the secret Ned Stark died with, Stannis refuses to let the news of Joffrey’s illegitimacy go unheard and spreads it via raven to the seven kingdoms. Elsewhere, his older brother Renly believes the throne is rightfully his and seeks to capture the Iron Throne for himself.
Robb Stark, self proclaimed King of the North, continues to hold Jaime Lannister prisoner and hopes to use him as leverage for peace negotiations. While he wants nothing to do with ruling King’s Landing, Robb makes it a contingency of the treaty that Joffrey renounce his hold over the North. Knowing the King and Queen Regent will never give in, Robb sends his mother, Lady Cat Stark, to negotiate with Renly Baratheon. An alliance there could get the numbers he needs. All he wants is to reunite his family and to return to Winterfell.
Trying desperately to hold on to any power she still has, Queen Cersei seeks out Lord Petyr Baelish (aka Little Finger) to send him on a mission to find Arya, Ned Stark’s missing daughter. She needs another pawn for a negotiated trade, and she’s hoping her knowledge of his love for Lady Stark will persuade him. Poor Petyr. He lays out too much of his hand, revealing what he knows about Cersei, Jamie and their inappropriate relationship. By now,though, everyone else knows, too. King Joffrey confronts his mother with her secret and knows King Robert had other bastard children. When she defies him and retaliates, he threatens her with death.
In the end, soldiers raid the kingdom to kill all of King Robert’s bastard children. They manage to slaughter babies and drown children so no rightful heir may lay claim to the throne, but they have missed one. The blacksmith’s apprentice, Gendry, has left the citadel, headed for the Night’s Watch.
While the first episode of this season provides some much needed plot development, scenes for the season to come promise all the blood, sex and adventure Thrones fans have come to expect. Personally, I’m looking forward to more exposure to the fine men of Westeros and more man-on-man action with Renly and Ser Loras. Let the Game begin!
What did you think of the premiere? Did it meet your expectations? Let us know in the comments section below!
|Jim C. is a sci-fi/supernatural/federation/superhero/Cylon teacher nerd, obsessed with TV, books and film. He spent his childhood reading comics, writing morbid horror stories and being the token tormented class homo, but he thinks he turned out pretty freakin’ awesome.|